Cane Corso vs Great Dane: Which Should I Choose?

Eye-catching, tall, intimidating but lovable, the Cane Corso and the Great Dane are two popular dog breeds on the larger end of the size chart! If you’re looking for a large dog to adopt, the Cane Corso and the Great Dane are both good options to choose from. Many people also mistake one for the other because of their similarities in both appearance and size.

If given the choice, which one is best for you and your family? The Cane Corso and Great Dane are very similar in many aspects, especially when it comes to the physical characteristics. Both, however, differ greatly in personality and temperament,

Here, we will discuss the similarities and differences of two of the most popular giants in the canine world, to help you decide which dog makes the best choice for you!

divider-pawVisual Differences

Cane Corso vs Great Dane
Image Credit: Left-Cane Corso(Sbolotova, Shutterstock); Right-Great Dane(Ralphs_Fotos, Pixabay)

At a Glance

Cane Corso

  • Average height (adult): 24 to 28 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 90 to 130 pounds
  • Lifespan: 9 to 12 years
  • Exercise: 30 minutes to 1 hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Low to Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes, with training
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Highly trainable, requires significant training, affectionate, energetic

Great Dane

  • Average height (adult): 28-32 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 100 to 160 pounds
  • Lifespan: 8 to 10 years
  • Exercise: 1 to 2 hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Low to Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Very Trainable, loyal, dependable

divider-dog pawCane Corso Overview

Muscular and confident in disposition, the Cane Corso is a large dog that is known as the peerless protector. Also known as the Italian Mastiff, they are intimidating in stature and domineering in appearance, but also loving and affectionate.

The words, Cane Corso, means “protector dog” or “guardian dog”—derived from cane, which is the Italian word for dog, as well as cohors, which is Latin for protector or guardian. The Cane Corso’s roots trace all the way back to ancient Rome. The breed is known to be the descendant of a Mastiff-type dog known as the molossus. Being a strong and intense breed of dog, they were used for battle and for hunting, as well as to be guard dogs.

With its intense physical appearance and rich history, the Cane Corso can be misunderstood to be an overly aggressive dogs. While they can be intimidating, Cane Corsos can also be loving family dogs and are even great with children. They are affectionate and love the company of their humans. With that said, they require proper training and early socialization, and they are not recommended for first time owners.

The Cane Corso is a loyal and dependable breed that works as an excellent guard dog and reliable protector of their family.

two cane corso dog sitting
Image Credit: EKATERINA SOLODILOVA, Shutterstock

Personality and Temperament

Among all the areas being compared, Cane Corsos’ temperament is the most contrasting feature compared to Great Danes.

Bred as guard dogs, Cane Corsos are naturally protective and intensely loyal dogs. They are calm and loving toward their families, but can be extremely cautious around strangers and even other pets. As pet parents of a Cane Corso, you will rarely be bored because of the amount of attention, training, and exercise you need to go through to meet your Cane Corso’s needs. They are intelligent and highly trainable, but require vigilance and work throughout their life.

All dogs are subject to aggression, and with the Cane Corso’s history, they are more susceptible to aggressive behaviors—especially if they feel that they or their loved ones are threatened. This makes early socialization extremely important. With proper training and socialization, they can identify legitimate threats and can learn to simply ignore strangers that mean no harm.


The Cane Corso is an intelligent breed that picks up new skills quite easily, especially if done early in life. They require early and frequent socialization, especially if they will be exposed to other animals and people throughout their life.

Cane Corsos are large dogs with incredible strength. They need room to move, and may knock things over around the house. Proper attention and training should be performed to make sure they don’t jump around the house. They should also undergo proper leash training to avoid any unwanted escapes due to leash pulling when going on walks.

These Italian Mastiffs are extremely loyal and loving towards their family. They work well with constant rewards, praise, and affection. If any unwanted behaviors are observed, they should immediately be corrected. If you are a first-time owner of a dog, professional training programs can be recommended to ensure your Cane Corso is properly trained to be the perfect family dog.

two cane corso dog running
Image Credit: DTeibe Photography, Shutterstock

Health & Lifespan

Cane Corsos have a life span of 9 to 12 years, which is relatively standard for larger dog breeds. Proper exercise, along with a healthy and balanced diet, can help prevent obesity—giving them the best chance at a long and happy life.

Cane Corsos are also prone to a variety of health conditions, such as hip dysplasia, gastric dilatation-volvulus, and ectropion. They are also susceptible to epilepsy, and may need immediate medical attention.

Grooming Requirements

Cane Corsos have a short, coarse double coat of fur. Their undercoat also adjusts to the climates they live in, with thicker and longer undercoats in colder climates and thinner, shorter undercoats in warmer temperatures. They shed their coats during the transition of seasons—shedding heaviest during the spring season, while occasionally shedding throughout the year. Weekly brushing is enough for maintaining their undercoats, and baths are recommended only as required.

As active dogs who require a lot of walks, their nails can be worn down naturally. Nail trims can also be recommended to keep your Cane Corso comfortable while moving.

Cane corso posing for camera
Image Credit: Lucie-Malouin_Pixabay

Exercise Requirements

Cane Corsos are active dogs that require exercise every day. They need 30 minutes to 1 hour of activity every day to provide them with the mental and physical stimulation they need. Exercise is also needed to prevent obesity and other health issues that Cane Corsos are prone to.

Suitable for:

The Cane Corso is suitable for families that need guard dogs. They are domineering in appearance and are protective. They are not recommended for families with little children and multi-pet households (especially for novice dog owners), but can live with children and other pets if properly trained. They are also recommended for owners with active lifestyles.

  • Good guard dogs
  • Low maintenance coat
  • Family oriented
  • Requires a lot of socialization and training
  • Risk of musculoskeletal problems
  • Can be misunderstood to be an overly aggressive dog

divider-dog pawGreat Dane Overview

Great Danes are nicknamed the “gentle giant” due to their towering stature and calm, laid back personalities. Bred for hunting large deer and boar in 16th century Germany, hunters used the their size to keep the large animals down once caught. They were eventually bred for domestication, when technology for hunting further developed, and have been great choices as pets ever since.

These gentle giants are favorites among dog enthusiasts. They enjoy the company of people, making them good family dogs. They also do well with small children and other pets!

Great Danes also have natural protective instincts, making them good guard dogs. They are generally calm and gentle, and would rarely exhibit any aggressive behaviors, unless provoked or in cases of emergency.

They are active and enjoy the outdoors, but can also lounge at home and are extremely content as the oversized lapdogs of their humans. This makes them perfect dogs for both people who enjoy trips to the great outdoors, as well as easygoing homebodies.

Fawn Great Dane Dog Breed
Image Credit: Jesus Souto, Shutterstock

Personality and Temperament

Great Danes got their nickname of “gentle giant” for a reason. They are generally calm, laid back, and affectionate. They enjoy the company of their owners, and do well with small children and other pets.

They will either directly engage in children’s rough play, or simply spectate in their company. They are generally tolerable and rarely snap unless pushed to their limits. Likewise, they are gentle and understand how to play carefully with children and other pets.

They make good guard dogs due to their stature, and can ward off strangers and other animals with their barks, though they will rarely exhibit aggression unless necessary in the situation. Like all dogs, early socialization and training is recommended.


Great Danes are easily trainable and are very sociable dogs. They love attention from their families and do well with strangers and other pets. Socialization and early exposure as puppies are important to prevent anxiety or unwanted behaviors around other people.

Great Danes are sweethearts who do not realize how big and strong they are, so obedience training is especially important around the house to help them understand their limits and capabilities.

A Great Dane at the river bringing a huge stick out of the water
Image Credit: GoDog Photo, Shutterstock

Health & Lifespan

Great Danes have a relatively shorter life span compared to other larger dog breeds, averaging between 8 to 10 years. Like the Cane Corso, they are also susceptible to obesity and require exercise and a healthy diet to prevent it. They are also susceptible to gastric dilatation-volvulus, arthritis, dilated cardiomyopathy, and elbow hygroma.

Grooming Requirements

Great Danes are also low maintenance in terms of grooming. Simple weekly brushing is recommended for their short coat of fur, as well as baths once or twice a month. Their naturally floppy ears require cleaning and must be monitored to prevent any build-up of dirt, which can cause them discomfort.

Like the Cane Corso, their nails are naturally trimmed due to their activity, but must also be monitored to prevent pain while walking.

Black great dane on the sea side
Image Credit: pirita, Shutterstock

Exercise Requirements

While Great Danes can be quite content while simply sitting on the couch with their owner, they do need 1 to 2 hours of exercise a day to prevent health complications. As they were originally bred for hunting, they are active and have a natural drive for the outdoors. Keeping your Great Dane fit and healthy can greatly increase their quality of life, as well as their lifespan.

Suitable for:

Great Danes are the perfect family dog due to their loyalty, protective nature, and naturally gentle demeanor. They are recommended for families with small children or multi-pet households due to their high sociability and impressionable personality. They are also recommended for both active families who enjoy the outdoors, or more laid back ones who enjoy going on simple walks.

  • Great with kids and other pets
  • Gentle and loving
  • Aggression is rare
  • Shorter lifespan
  • Risk of health issues relating to internal organs

divider-pawConclusion: Which Breed is Right for You?

The Cane Corso and Great Dane are two excellent dogs that are similar in physical traits, trainability, health characteristics, and grooming requirements. They are both affectionate, loving, loyal and are very protective of their families. They differ the most in personality and temperament, with the Cane Corso being more protective and less sociable than the gentle and attention-loving Great Dane.

With proper socialization and training, both the Cane Corso and the Great Dane are fantastic family dogs. They are both excellent and loving dog breeds within their large size group. As such, it is best to choose the best dog to match you and your family’s personalities and lifestyle!

Featured Image Credit: Left-Cane Corso(Ulrike Leone_Pixabay); Right-Great Dane(everydoghasastory, Shutterstock)

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